HYATTSVILLE – Four months ago, Guy Fauntleroy and Devon Savage were on two different ends of the high school basketball world, playing for two different programs with different expectations.
Fast-forward to May 31 as both players are together and combining forces on a revamped Riverdale Baptist roster. Fauntleroy showed off his ball-handling skills while Savage impressed observers with his potential as a shooter during their Capitol Hoops Summer League appearance. The duo combined for 35 points to lead the Crusaders to a narrow 55-53 win against Bowie.
The pair of juniors were both at St. John’s Catholic High School as freshmen before Fauntleroy left to join Rock Creek Christian Academy last year.
As a sophomore, Fauntleroy showed off his skills as the team’s primary playmaker, leading Rock Creek to a Capital Beltway Athletic Association Championship. Savage averaged 5.3 points a game as part of Cadets’ run to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament finals.
Both were reached out at the same time by Riverdale Baptist officials to transfer. Fauntleroy stated it was ultimately a family decision he made with his mother that benefited his basketball and educational opportunities that are “more important than basketball.” Savage voiced similar sentiments but added that it was a smoother transition with a friend like Fauntleroy tagging along.
“We’ve known each other since the seventh grade, and it is a bond that has not been broken,” Savage said. “We just like to play with each other, and we are going to transfer our play from AAU to high school this season.”
Their additions supplement the loss of seven seniors from last year’s roster. Against Bowie, their raw talent was on full display. Fauntleroy took on defenders one-on-one as he drove to the basket while Savage used his 6-foot-6 frame as he powered through for layup opportunities.
“We are more freelancing and playing around,” Fauntleroy said. “We are not doing many sets and focusing on what needs to be work on over the summer.”
Assistant Coach Antoine Gaither stated it would take their new players time to adjust to the fast ball-movement style Head Coach Travis Lyons prefers. The Crusaders jumped out to a 14-3 lead midway through the first half.
However, Bowie did not lie down to their private school foes. The Bulldogs continued firing off layups and mid-range jumpers to tie the game by halftime. With guard Jordan Harris graduating this year, all the focus will be on rising senior Kyree Freeman-Davis. The 6-foot-2 shooting guard took 16 shots and scored a team-high 17 points.
“We started off kind of slow, but the type of team we have is a defensive team,” Freeman-Davis said. “We are going to run teams out of the gym and not give up, So, they had a good lead in the beginning, but as you can see, we came back. It was a slight loss, but by the end of the year, we will be ready to go.”
The Bulldogs’ aggressive defense rattled the Crusaders with 13 steals and 23 points coming off of turnovers. A surprise was the performance of Jacob Morgan, a 5-foot-8 rising sophomore, who dribbled through Riverdale Baptist’s size and scored six points. Power forward Justin Zavala battled with both Savage and 6-foot-8 center Chris Smith to score 11 points. Bowie took its first lead four minutes into the second half.
Both teams traded the lead for the final 10 minutes of the game. However, it would be Riverdale Baptist using their size advantage to take a six-point lead with three minutes to go. Savage scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the second half.
Bowie continued to fight with Elijah Williams who scored six points, including a jumper in the final 50 seconds to tie the game. However, Fauntleroy drove through an open lane to reclaim the Crusaders lead. A last 3-pointer heave to win the game by Freeman-Davis bounced off the backboard to solidify the win for the Upper Marlboro based team.
“We got to improve on the defensive end,” Freeman-Davis said. “Boxing-out is going to be a big key for our team because we are not a wide-size team. And getting the ball in the hole after our fast breaks are going to be our main thing because teams are longer than us. So getting it down the floor and getting it in the hole is something we are going to do.”
Gaither said he does not expect the team to start gelling until late summer as Fauntleroy and Savage continue to get acclimated into the Riverdale Baptist system. Combined with returning players adjusting to their roles, the Crusaders expect to be a much stronger team competing for championships next season.
“We are just playing off of talent right now,” Gaither said. “Once we can put some system-type stuff in, both of them will be really good.”